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Windy City Paperback – April 14, 2009
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Windy City is a fun book that parodies Chicago politics and urban ethnic culture in the course of a murder. Scott Simon is the ideal author for such a book. Like me, he is a "Chicagoan Away" as described in his memoir Home and Away. And, like that book, it treats one familiar with Chicago geography, politics and ethnicity with waves of nostalgia and authenticity.
The story revolves around the Alderman of Chicago's 48th Ward, an Indian American restaurant owner serving as Vice Mayor when the African American Mayor, his ally, dies - from a poisoned pizza. He assumes the role of Acting Mayor as described in the Chicago charter and as happened after the deaths of Richard J. Daley and Harold Washington, especially Harold Washington.
Like any book of this kind, it pledges that the characters are fictional. But the similarities of some with real life characters are inescapable. The murdered Mayor has some remarkable similarities to the city's only African American Mayor Harold Washington. I worked for Harold as counsel to city's civil rights agency and as his liaison to the city's Asian Americans. Much of my job came close to the world of this book. Like the murdered Mayor, Harold used long words, ate as with the same gusto that he practiced politics ( I remember taking him to Korean, Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants - he returned to some after closing for extra helpings). And he died at his desk also, though from a heart attack not from a poisoned pizza. Like this Mayor, his sexuality took second place to his politics.Read more ›
Now it appears this talent has translated to fiction as well. And that's not as easy as people might think. Consider asking a pediatrician to perform brain surgery tomorrow. Writing for radio and fiction are really very different forms.
Simon has captured a marvelous look at our country in the beginning of the 21st century by focusing on, of all things, the colorful politics of Cook County. When you really think about it, what could possibly be more American? And he has accomplished this with his great humor and vivid knack for description.
I don't often laugh out loud when I am reading books. I did here. I also found the opening description of a politician's view of what it takes to get votes and what it means to enter the arena as one of the single best descriptions of our flawed and fabulous democratic system. I have read it over several times, as I did other passages in this really great book.
Finally, a personal story: a few years ago, I was visiting a friend who lives on the north side of Chicago. She and her husband live with their one daughter in a three bedroom home that was once owned by a Catholic family with ten children. It was summer and we were sitting on the front porch. She described her neighborhood by the people who passed by. There was a gay couple pushing a baby carriage. There was "Big Ed", the retired Chicago Cop who chatted with the couple. There were at least three different nationalities.Read more ›
Acting mayor Sunny Roopini, of Indian extraction,is an engaging character and the book brightens when he's front and center. It's a pity that he doesn't do more to get to the bottom of the mystery. Instead, the book flits around strange, unresolved events such as a suicide of a mayoral top aide and an alderwoman's weepy confession of an impolitic love affair in the past. These and many other plot points make the novel wobble perilously off course before coming to its logical and long-in-coming conclusion.
A judicious editor could have done quite a bit in trimming the unneeded miscellaneous information and tightened the plot. A four-star book is lurking here, too bad it's hiding under a pile of random facts.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good old Chicago style politics. The author captures the machinations of the characters who run a city the olf fashioned political way.Published on February 14, 2014 by Sops
Interesting story of Chicago politics and corruption that is nearly as real as the current game played by the machine today.Published on June 28, 2013 by Eugene M. Long,Jr.,M.D
Scott Simon's characters are so much like what Chicago politicians have proven to be through the years, that the story could actually be real. Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by Theresa A. Prater
The story line is good Chicago fun but the writing belabors every element. Over description becomes a distraction and drugery to read. Editorial staff really dropped the ball here. Read morePublished on August 18, 2012 by seattle_sunshine
Windy City takes place over a 3 day period, following Alderman Roopini, the Vice-Mayor, from the time the Mayor is found dead until the council's election of a new interim mayor. Read morePublished on July 17, 2011 by D. C. Palter
Scott Simon has created a bit of a roman a clef with WINDY CITY. Beloved African-American mayor dies face down in the remnants of his prosciutto and artichoke pizza. Read morePublished on April 10, 2011 by Jim Tenuto
I will say that the book got off to a good start--the murder of the mayor of Chicago. Quite an interesting way to begin. Read morePublished on April 2, 2011 by Loves to Read
Although there is a murder involved this is not really a crime book. It follows the acting interim mayor for a few days as he works hard trying to herd cats and keep his fellow... Read morePublished on February 28, 2011 by Bonner '62
Who knew that Scott Simon was anything but a pretty face on the radio?
Who knew that Chicago politics could be, well, a good read? Read more